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Sealing Bear Claw

Hello all I am making a pendant for a customer that is a little out
of the ordinary for me. It is a bear claw from a Grizzly, and i am
adding a silver cap and bail. But I’ve heard the claw itself needs to
be presevered in someway in order to keep it from drying up. I dont
think shelac would be ideal as over time i think it might crack and
flake but maybe urathane? any ideas as to the best way to preserve
this unfortunate bears , claw. For all those concerned i understand
this Bear was Killed Legally and in a way that supported the balance
of Nature. Thanks for your help


Hello there, We will give you a bit of info that we learned recently
but with the caveat" We are not experts in this area". A client also
approached us to do the same, our circumstances were as follows: Made
sure the animal was taken ethically & legally … it was. Found out
it was in the mid 70’s if memory serves me well (the claws were a
bit aged.) They looked good. Learned, from the owner, if the central
canal contents were removed it would hasten the demise of the
material (Why we do not know the rational) The client understood the
results were not to be guaranteed for the long term much like some
enhanced (i.e. read disclosure) A Two Ton epoxy resin was
used to fill the foramen of the canal to give strength and a bezel
was applied. Not the full canal. This action was performed by the
client). Then the necklace was made. There were 14 (?) claws in the
necklace with obsidian beads & Kingman Turquoise. It was HEAVY.

The necklace was used as a part of a costume for a professional dog
handler for AKC Shows (it received a bit of vigorous activity in the
form of a trot with the larger animals). Since it was a large & heavy
piece we reworked a bit of the stringing a year later. The claws
looked unchanged and OK. The client remains satisfied.

Best Regards,
Bob of BobnCyn of
Gold Impressions

Animal claws such as bear claw are grown of the same material as
horn, and will not “dry up” over time. I have had some various claws
for years (including a bear’s), and they are fine. You do not need to
treat it. The only concern with claws is that they can suffer insect
damage if poorly stored.

Jack Reisland

Jeff’ Living as I do in Kodiak Alaska, where we have about one bear
for every four or five people, I have mounted a number of bear
claws. Usually when I receive them they have been removed from the
paw leaving the knuckle attached and they have dried. in that case
simply saw the knuckle off at the top. sometimes I get them as they
have been remove from the hide after it has been tanned. These
sometimes have a hollow area extending maybe a third of the was down
the claw. I usually fill that with a two part epoxy paste such as
Marine Tex. Before setting you need to polish the claw. I work it
down smooth with 220 grit emery paper, dry. Then go to 320 and 400
grit, then to tripoli on a muslin buff and finally Zam or Fabuluster
on leather. You will be surprised at how this brings out the subtle
colors of the claw and at the really fine polish it takes. There is
no need for shellac or urethane. As a side note, your client may be
interested to know that a large Grizzley or Brown Bear claw, suitably
mounted, will sell for as much as $1,000 in the lower 48. In Alaska,
I might add, such a sale is against the law and carries stiff
penalties. Jerry in Kodiak

Hi all, The discussion of bear claws reminds me of what happened to
a friend of mine many years. He had 10 bear claws. He would make a
custom bear claw bola with two claws for special order. There was
one claw that had a partial split down the middle. To make a bola
he would reach into his box of claws and grab two. If he picked out
the split one he would throw it back into the box and grab another.
Each time he made a bola he thought he should make one for himself.
He never got around to making a bola for himself until there were
only two claws left, one good one and a split one. He figured he
could clean the dirt out of the split and fill the split with epoxy
and use it for a bola for himself. He took the split claw to the
sink and started brushing the dirt out. After a while he noted that
there was something shinny peaking thru the mud. It turned out that
the split was caused by a gold nugget about a quarter inch in size
with a sharp point sticking through the split. He now wears a bola
around his neck made with one very normal claw and one very
valuable claw.

Just a note: most southwest Indians will not touch bear claws.
Good luck
Lee Epperson